If you haven't already, be sure to read What is Gel-Core Technology? Part 1: Background where we discuss the pros and cons of the two most popular paddle core types, nomex and polypropylene and our desire to find a middle ground between the two that makes the most of each's benefits while minimizing their drawbacks.
Our solution is an entirely new hybrid material made possible by our proprietary manufacturing techniques. Without giving away too many secrets, we use an aramid honeycomb material that has been infused with an elastomeric material within the paddle face. We are able to fine-tune the infusion process to provide several benefits.
- Stiffness and light weight of aramid/carbon: Sticking with a base of aramid/carbon, we retain all of its stiffness, and its light weight allowed us to add the silicone infusion strategically without making for an overweight paddle.
- Increased rotational inertia: For any physics buffs out there, you'll appreciate our attention to the importance of the "moment of inertia" in paddle design. Put simply, rotational inertia is the resistance of an object to rotation. If you imagine the handle of your paddle being a shaft, and the paddle face rotating around it, you can picture that when you hit a ball off-center, the paddle will try to rotate in your hand. That rotation absorbs the energy of the ball and results in less velocity on the return. We interpret this feeling as being "off the sweet spot". The more a paddle is willing to rotate, the more off-centered shots will lose velocity and in turn, we’ll interpret the sweet spot as being smaller. Now imagine a figure skater, spinning with arms extended. As the skater brings their arms in toward their bodies, the speed of their rotation increases, almost as if by magic! This is the result of the skater decreasing their rotational inertia--effectively becoming a paddle with a small sweet spot. As they extend their arms again, their spin slows immediately. Our elastomer-infused Gel-Core mimics this arms-extended figure skater. The mass of the paddle is pushed outward, increasing the paddle's rotational inertia and making it less willing to rotate with off-center hits. What you feel as a player is a paddle that is more stable and powerful with off-centered shots. This is often interpreted as a "larger sweet spot".
- Vibration damping feel of a poly-core paddle: The Gel-Core reduces vibration unlike any other nomex paddle and "feels" more like a poly paddle. The damping characteristics of the elastomer infusion cuts the high-frequency vibrations you feel on ball impact, making for a paddle that lacks the harshness that nomex paddles otherwise can have.
- Noise reduction of a poly-core paddle: Most players (and neighbors) agree that poly cores make for quieter paddles than nomex cores. As pickleball continues to gain popularity, we're all well aware of the potential for noise complaints. Our Gel-Core paddles are measurably quieter than nomex paddles and more on par with poly paddles but without the dull "thud" sound that they sometimes have.
Learn more by continuing to Part 3: The Results, in which we'll discuss the various ways we've tested these paddles to prove these are more than just wild marketing claims but technology that gives actual results, both in the testing lab and on the court!
(Figure skater image used under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication usage)